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12 May 2006
AMSTERDAM — Somali-born MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali may have told more lies about her past in order to get asylum in the Netherlands in 1992 than she has previously admitted, news programme Zembla has suggested.
*sidebar1*Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk said on Friday that Hirsi Ali need not worry about facing repercussions for what she did 14 years ago. But she repeated she would have deported Hirsi Ali if she had been the minister back in 1992. "I don't like lies," Verdonk said on Friday.
Hirsi Ali shot to fame in 2002 when her criticism of aspects of Islam and the treatment of women in Muslim societies led to death threats. She joined the Dutch Liberal Party (VVD) and was elected to parliament in 2003.
She wrote the scripts for the short film Submission which featured semi-naked women taking about mistreatment under Islam. The director Theo van Gogh was murdered in November 2004 for helping her to make the movie.
Thursday's edition of Zembla retraced Hirsi Ali's journey from Somalia, via Kenya, to the Netherlands and uncovered both well-documented and previously unreported inconsistencies in her story.
Interviews with her brother, aunt and ex-husband raised doubts about Hirsi Ali's contention she fled to Europe to escape possible retribution from her family for not going through with an arranged marriage. Her relatives contradicted her claim that she was not present during the wedding to the Canadian-Somali man.
Hirsi Ali said she was forced to marry a stranger but her ex-husband said they had been in love and spent the week together after the wedding. He then went back to Canada to prepare for her arrival. Supplied with a plane ticket, Hirsi Ali later arrived in Germany and took a train to Amsterdam rather than continue the planned journey to Canada.
She has for years admitted she made up parts of her story to get asylum in the Netherlands but she insisted to Zembla her relatives and ex-husband were lying in regard to some of the details.
The programme-makers said it was decided to look into her past because of differing accounts she has given over the years about her past.
Hirsi Ali said she came clean about the lies she told to get asylum when she joined the Liberal Party (VVD) in 2002. Yet prominent VVDer (and now EU Commissioner) Neelie Kroes described Hirsi Ali as a person who had lived through five civil wars in Somalia. This was not true as Hirsi Ali lived in Kenya for over 10 years before coming to the Netherlands.
A spokesperson for the VVD said the party had been aware that Hirsi Ali lied about her name and date of birth when seeking asylum. This was not seen as a barrier to her joining the party or becoming one of its MPs.
Her real name is Hirsi Magan. Her father was an opponent of the regime in Somalia and was jailed there. Hirsi Ali and her brother were sent to Kenya where she lived from the age of 10 to 22.
Other Somalis living as refugees in Kenya were refused asylum in the Netherlands in 1992 because Kenya was considered a safe country. Hirsi Ali, who had refugee status in Kenya, told Dutch immigration officials she was fleeing from Somali. She was granted asylum within five weeks, an apparent record.
Zembla showed footage of Hirsi Ali in a documentary made the Dutch Muslim broadcaster only months after she was supposedly in hiding for fear of retribution from her family. It also emerged she was in contact with her father and on one occasion her jilted husband came to see her in the Netherlands. He left without harming her when she made it clear she did not want to continue with the marriage.
The MP's spokesperson said there was nothing new in the documentary and noted Zembla had chosen not to include other issues about her past, including her claims to be undergone female circumcision as a young girl.
Former Immigration Minister Hilbrand Nawijn called for Hirsi Ali to be stripped of Dutch nationally and deported. He was head of the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) when Hirsi Ali applied for asylum.
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[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2006]
Subject: Dutch news
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